It starts tomorrow – 2020’s World Childless Week!
When I first started writing about childlessness on my blog back in 2011 I really found very little on the internet about involuntary childlessness apart from a few wonderful life-after-infertility blogs such as Silent Sorority, Life Without Baby and The Road Less Travelled. However, as fertility treatments hadn’t been part of my story, I didn’t immediately find them. And there certainly didn’t seem to be anything out there that spoke to the diversity of ways a woman could find herself childless. So, when I wrote that very first blog and women from around the world left comments such as “How do you know the exact words in my head?” and, “I thought I was the only one thinking this”, I sat at my desk and wept tears of relief to know that I wasn’t alone. When I later found out that 1 in 5 women my age (born in the 1960s in the UK) was childless, I couldn’t work out why I didn’t know (or know of) even one. (You can read more of my story in the free sample chapter of my book).
Over the last almost decade, the work of Gateway Women has, extraordinarily, touched the lives of millions of women around the world and my life is certainly FULL of fabulous childless women these days! One of them is the British Founder of World Childless Week, Stephanie Phillips. She created World Childless Week in 2017 thinking it would get a few likes on Facebook but, in that first year alone, Twitter analytics documented 1.2 million tweets of the hashtag #WorldChildlessWeek, and in 2018 the campaign reached 85 countries. Now in its 4th year, you can find out more about her and the background to WCW here, including the WCW press release – why not email it to your local radio station or share about it at work – surely we’ve all seen enough ‘support’ for pandemic parenting circulating haven’t we?!
Stephanie was inspired to start World Childless Week after recognizing the need for a global campaign to support those who are childless not by choice or childless by circumstance. Across the world now, there are an average of 1 in 5 women who are reaching midlife without children (it varies from 1 in 3 in German and Japan to 1 in 6 in the USA – full demographic details in the new 2nd edition of my book). Of those women, 10% are childless by choice (childfree), 10% are childless due to infertility and 80% are childless by circumstance. It’s the last number that always surprises everyone but not me – in the many years that I’ve been supporting childless women in our private membership community, I’ve heard thousands of these stories, many of them laced with a nasty dose of shame too that somehow they should have been more in charge of luck, timing, circumstances and other people’s behaviour than is really possible. (That’s why my ’50 Ways Not to be a Mother’ list has also been updated in the new edition, and you’ll find that section in the free chapter download too!)
As one of 23 World Childless Week Champions from around the world, I am proud to announce that Gateway Women is involved in many of the online activities planned for next week and I’ll be very busy on social media and in the Gateway Women Private Membership Community.
Don’t forget that from tomorrow, the content that has been submitted by childless individuals from around the world will also go live on the WCW website on each of the themed days – so as well as the events below (+ others listed on the WCW website) don’t forget to keep your eye on the World Childless Week website each day from Monday 14th to Sunday 20th September and/or follow WCW on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or sign up for the World Childless Week newsletter here.
(12 noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK, 9pm Europe; 4am/5am Monday Australia; 7am Monday NZ)
(12noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK, 9pm Europe; 4am/5am Mon Australia, 7am Mon NZ).
7am Pacific, 9am Central, 10am Eastern, 3pm UK, 4pm Europe, 10pm/Midnight Australia
11am Pacific, 1pm Central, 2pm Eastern, 7pm UK, 8pm Europe; Thus 2am/4am Aus, 6am NZ
I am proud to be one of the speakers at the introductory evening for The End of the Line which will explore the landscape of childless grief. The evening, organised by long-time GW member Alison Heatherington in collaboration with Sophy Banks and Dita Visozo will offer some simple yet powerful practices, talk about the transformative possibility of grieving together, and share a little of our childless journeys. The evening has a suggested donation cost of GBP£5-10 to attend, if you are able to afford it. You can find out more and book here and if you wanted to read Alison’s beautiful blog about her childless grief and what this event means to her, you’ll find that here. As far as I’m aware, the event will not be recorded.
2am Pacific, 10am UK, 11am Europe, 5pm/7pm Australia, 9pm NZ
For the COMMENTS THAT HURT themed day of World Childless Week, please join Karin Enfield, Gateway Women’s Operations Director along with Sarah Roberts, counsellor and founder of The Empty Cradle in Brisbane, Australia for this practical workshop on how to cope with those social landmines we’re all extremely familiar with! There is no perfect answer to some of the intrusive and insensitive questions childless people are regularly asked, but with support and a few new tools, it can get easier to navigate our social worlds. For more information and to register for this webinar click here. It will be recorded and available to view on the World Childless Week website after the live recording.
10am Pacific, 12noon Central, 1pm Eastern, 6pm UK, 7pm Europe; Sun 1am/3am Aus, 5am NZ
11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern, 6pm UK, 7pm Europe; Mon 2am/4am Australia, 6am NZ
Also for the WE ARE WORTHY themed day of World Childless Week, join 12 of World Childless Week’s Champions, including myself and Karin Enfield de Vries (Gateway Women’s Operations Director) as together we reach back in time to tell ourselves what we wish we could have heard back then. We celebrate our worthiness as human beings, something which is not dependent on being a parent, and we hope that together we’ll inspire you of what may lie ahead, on the other side of your pain and sadness. For more info and to register click here. It will be recorded and available to view on the World Childless Week website after the live recording.
For the final MOVING FORWARDS themed day of World Childless Week, join Kelly Brandt, a certified bereavement facilitator and licenced Gateway Women facilitator along with your tribe of childless people around the world to honour those children not in our lives through music, poetry, ritual and readings. I will be doing a reading and the ceremony will include readings, singing, music and poetry from other GW members and facilitators including Elizabeth Grambsch (North American/Australian Online Bee Hive Leader); Kristine Mallett (Licenced GW workshop facilitator and GW Meetup Host), Nadira Kimberly (GW community member), Stephanie Phillips (Founder of World Childless Week) and Dr Vula Baliotis (a psychologist supporting childless clients). Your participation in the ceremony will be anonymous and the event will be recorded and available afterwards to view on the World Childless Week website. If you have ever wanted to do a ritual around your childless losses but haven’t know how or where or who to do it with, this is your chance. Any questions to Kelly Brandt, the organiser at firstname.lastname@example.org Click here for more information, to watch a short video from Kelly and to register.
Donate to support World Childless Week
World Childless Week is made possible by the incredibly hard work behind the scenes of the Founder, Stephanie Phillips and all of her World Childless Week Champions. We all donate our time free, but creating something like this isn’t without costs and so if you could donate any amount, no matter how modest (or huge!) to support the digital and admin costs of World Childless Week it would be so appreciated. You can donate here: https://worldchildlessweek.net/donate
I really look forward to seeing you in one of the many events GW is involved in next week, and if you don’t feel up to that yet, that’s fine too – trust that you know what’s best for you right now and follow along next week in whatever way works for you. In time, and with the support of your childless sisters from around the world, your heart will begin to heal too, as mine has done, with your support and love over the years.
Thank you, to each of you, for being my Tribe.